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At least it is to me. I lacked health insurance due to a pre-existing condition and racked up one helluva medical bill. I could have easily taken the medical bankruptcy route and become another statistic. No one would have begrudged me that course. I decided to take a different path though. And in so doing, be free of the crushing debt that increased day by day by day…. To start, I had lunch with Terry Brooks, author of the bestselling Shannara series.

The series is a work of fiction that takes place in the 5th and 6th centuries and attempts to present the Arthurian legends in a historical setting while presenting the story with a reality the reader can connect with. Lawhead bases his stories on the Mabinogion , the History of the Kings of Britain and other works of Geoffrey of Monmouth , the writings of Taliesin , Gildas , and Nennius , and several other legends that he manages to interweave into the Arthurian legend.

The books, with the exception of Taliesin and Avalon , are narrated in the first-person, and, except for Pendragon , Grail , and Avalon , are each split into three sections Pendragon has four, Grail one, and Avalon five. Merlin and Pendragon are narrated by Myrddin Merlin. Grail is mostly narrated by Gwalchavad Galahad , with a short narration by Morgian Morgan le Fay at the beginning of most chapters.

A listing of the locations and place names used in the series, and their modern equivalents see also List of Roman place names in Britain :. Tells simultaneously the story of the fall of Atlantis, the subsequent travel of Princess Charis and her family to Ynys Prydein Britain , and the discovery and training of Taliesin as a druid-bard. The two eventually meet and marry, and Myrddin Merlin is born, just weeks before a tragedy brought about by Charis' jealous half-sister, Morgian.

Narrated by Myrddin. Tells of Myrddin's dual upbringing among the druids and Christian priests, his capture and mystical training among the Hill Folk, and his brief time as a king of Dyfed. I can recommend The Dark Thorn to fans of fantasy in general. Dec 01, seak rated it really liked it Shelves: audio , arc-review , This book is traditional fantasy which I still love with a twist not necessarily M. Night Shyamalan style. I highly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend. I keep saying I'm going to add more to these reviews and then leaving them be so I'll make no promises until that actually starts to happen.

Mar 24, Mihir rated it really liked it. I was intrigued by it and thanks to Shawn who offered us a review copy. The blurb details an urban fantasy world with fantasy elements and makes for intriguing plotline. I was able to read an excerpt and that impressed me greatly. The whole book was another thing altogether. A knight in the metaphysical sense who lives in Seattle and has faced a whole host of worldly and other-worldly problems, he has had a rough past and even more troubles currently.

His status as a knight of the word is a bit shaky but still reliable. Bran Ardall is an orphan lost on the streets of Seattle however his destiny pulls him on to the path with Richard. Bran doesn't quite know how his past ties into his present but he will have to partner with Richard to unveil all secrets. In another realm Philip Plantagenet, scion of Henry II is planning to rule the land of Tuatha de Dannan and he will do absolutely everything to conquer it entirely.

This story while primarily being an urban fantasy story has huge dollops of thriller and high fantasy genres as well. The author does his best to mix them up and gives us a story whose outcome is hard to predict. I found this to be a bit unique in regards to urban fantasy storylines. Yes The Dresden Files is currently mixing urban and high fantasy and building up to a big climax however the author never quite revealed this until the 7th book.

Shawn on the other hand opens up the story in a dark, smashing fashion showcasing faeries, the Vatican church, an otherworldly realm and some Arthurian mythos. The characterization becomes very crucial in a tale with a huge cast of characters and we get a wide variety of them. With Bran and Richard, we get two whom the audience can connect and root for. However the other POV character Deidre who starts off as simple maiden but gets sucked into a horrible arrangement, truly shows some surprising chops.

Reflection and Response

The main plot takes quite some turns which will keep the readers on their toes as they follow all the character arcs. Now while The Dark Thorn did manage to impress me quite a bit, there are some areas wherein it needs improvement. First the author plunges the readers directly into the story without much of an explanation. This is a bit Steven Erikson-esque and while some might enjoy such a introduction, there will be many who wouldn't prefer it to be so. Secondly the pace of the story is uneven in the sense, there are some terrific action sequences but in between them, the story flounders a bit as the author pushes the story forward.

Annwn Cycle Tales | the LIFESTYLE

His characterization might leave a lot unsettled and hard to connect with. It has its plus points and some flaws but that shouldn't deter readers from giving it a shot. The Dark Thorn will surely feature in my year-end lists for the ingenuity shown in its plot and world setting while also providing some intriguing characters. If you are tired of reading the same old urban fantasy stories, then make sure you read this one, as it will surely refresh your mind as it did mine! Nov 16, The Grim Reader rated it it was ok.

Not for me. Started off well but soon became cliche ridden.

The Dark Thorn

I was hoping it would be a little more gritty. Instead it read like a young adult novel. Aug 06, Robin Burrows rated it really liked it Shelves: read This book is about Richard, a knight who guards a portal between our world and the fey world. When trouble stirs in the other world Richard reluctantly investigates, but nothing is what it seems. The author, Shawn Speakman, has been the web druid for Terry Brooks for years, and you can see Terry's influence at the beginning of this book.

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The tone, especially early-on reminded me of Terry. Some people said they had trouble connecting with Richard's character. That wasn't the case for me, especially This book is about Richard, a knight who guards a portal between our world and the fey world. That wasn't the case for me, especially once Elizabeth was introduced. However, it did take me a while to get into the story. The book starts with a battle before you know or care about the characters, but if you keep reading the plot threads start to reveal themselves.

The story combines urban fantasy and high fantasy. I love all of the Arthurian threads interwoven into the story. Some of the scenes involving the Catholic Church felt a little heavy-handed in the first part of the book, but they are relevant to events later in the book. It all connects. Several of the plot twists surprised me. As a writer, that pleased me, but as a reader I was sad that some of the characters I liked had to deal with more trouble It helped humanize the characters. I was really looking forward to watching it unfold in the future books.

The resolution to the romantic plotline felt like the easy way out for that particular plot thread. It's resolution is the catalyst for something else, but as a reader I felt misled, especially because of what is foretold. Bran is the other knight who travels with Richard. Bran was an orphan who lived on the streets most of his life. Early-on in the fey world, Bran felt a little too helpless and innocent for someone who had lived on the streets for so long. However, his innocence is a good balance for Richard's cynicism.

Overall, this is a good debut novel. I enjoyed reading it even if I was sad about certain characters. The major plotlines are resolved, but enough questions are left unanswered to make you want to read the next book. I look forward to it! May 28, Jake Scholl rated it really liked it. He fought the disease and survived.


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The problem now is that Speakman had no Health Insurance. So instead of declaring medical bankruptcy, Shawn decided to self-publish his fantasy novel The Dark Thorn and use the proceeds from the book to pay off his debts. To learn more, follow this link. I bought it because frankly the blurb grabbed my attention.


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Currently the Fantasy genre has seen a huge influx of tales set in a modern-day setting. There are many subpar knockoffs of these books released every year. The Dark Thorn however is able to be on the same level of books by authors such as Butcher and Hamilton.


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And I think in some respects the book outshines a lot of newly released fantasies. Traditionally Published and Self Published. These unlikely themes are combined to create a very human tale. The characters are very superb also. Every character had clear motives, and the way they proceed to act makes sense. At times the writing style reminded me a lot of Terry Brooks. Speakman is good friends with Brooks, who also taught him at the Maui Writers Workshop.

Speakman is no knockoff though. He may be similar but his style is all his own, and is rather refreshing. Overall, I give the book 4 stars out of 5! A great debut from a new writer! Jan 29, Chuck Hughes rated it did not like it. The writing is not very polished and doesn't flow very well. He tries to be very grandiose with the writing and language and it just comes off as cheap and awkward. There are also several instances in the book where the author will say something on one page and then contradict himself on the next page, sometimes in the next sentence.

The characters are shallow and one dimensional, they have no depth, and they flip flop from being extremely immature and irrational one minute to being very wise and all knowing the next. There is no character development, we don't see them grow at all, they just inexplicably go from selfish children, ignorant of the world around them, to full grown, mature adults, tasked to save the world from impending doom. The plot has holes all over the place and there is a lot of deus ex machina.

He writes the characters into seemingly impossible scenarios with no way out and all of a sudden they emerge victorious and he explains it away with "magic. It was all I could do to make it to the end of the book. I will not be reading the next two books in the series when they come out, one book was more than enough for me. I would not recommend this book. View 1 comment. Sep 29, Rachael rated it liked it. Well, that was a rollercoaster. In fact, I'm still not sure of my rating. My heart says 4 stars but my head says 3.

It started off so well. There was great world building and the whole book was well-written.